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DC Mayor Says Trump's July 4 Celebration and Protests Bankrupted Security Fund
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11 Jul 2019 03:51 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)

 

Donald Trump dreamed for the past few years for an Independence Day celebration like the one he threw last week in Washington D.C. The problem is where the financing came for it.

 

While we heard before the event that the National Park Service was footing the bill, robbing the parks from necessary improvements, the D.C. government covered some of the cost as well.  

This left D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to declare that this depleted a fund that is used to protect the capital from terrorist threats and provide security at rallies and state funerals.

 

Bowser wrote to Trump to warn him that the celebration, at $1.7 million, along with the cost of police covering the demonstrations taking place throughout the weekend, is bankrupting the government.  

D.C. is estimated to be running at a deficit of $6 million when this fiscal year ends at the end of September. Bowser also explained that the fund was never reimbursed for Trump's $7.3 million inauguration in 2017.

 

The mayor requested that the White House fully reimburse that fund, as city officials contend that without that money, D.C. citizens will be put in the position of funding federal security needs with their local tax money. 

"We ask for your help with ensuring the residents of the District of Columbia are not asked to cover millions of dollars of federal expenses and are able to maintain our high standards of protection for federal events," wrote Bowser.

 

Judd Deere, White House spokesman, said in an email that the Trump administration has "received the letter and will respond in a timely manner." He did not address the financial concerns. 

"President Trump led our nation in a great Salute to America and recognized the brave sacrifice our service men and women have made throughout history," he wrote of the celebration that included Trump's speech at the Lincoln Memorial, military aircraft flyovers, and armored vehicles on display on the Mall.

 

Director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, Chris Rodriguez, said the estimated costs for the Fourth of July were six times as much as in prior years, and the amount is likely to grow as they continue to tally the expenses for the celebration. 

The Pentagon chipped in as well. It's estimated that It spent $1.2 million. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt confirmed in a letter to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) that he diverted $2.8 million from existing accounts to cover a portion of Trump's party.

 

He used $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees that was meant for park improvements to cover the ceremony. $354,000 from a challenge-grant program was used to pay for expenses related to the fireworks. 

He wrote that the Interior is "clearly within the bounds of its authority in taking these actions," as the funds "have long been used by the National Park Service for celebratory events to enhance the visitor experience and to provide critical safety when there is a temporary influx of people."

 

Comparatively, the Interior spent $500,000 on the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commemoration, as well as the 2009 rededication of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall, according to Bernhardt. 

Altogether, the bill for Trump's 4th of July celebration will cost taxpayers $9.15 million, going by current estimates. This includes $3.9 million for the Capitol Fourth Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, an expense already designated by Congress.

 

This flashy celebration sparked protests, despite it usually being a non-political event. Demonstrators flew the "Trump Baby" ballon near the World War II Memorial. 

Some of Trump's supporters gathered for a rally on Freedom Plaza, organized by right-wing activists. A large counterprotest took place as well, leading to hundreds of police officers being deployed.

 

With the District's Emergency Planning and Security Fund tasked with covering the costs of inaugural security, visits by foreign dignitaries, and large rallies, former assistant D.C. police chief and former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Kim Dine, said no other police department in the United States faces such pressure. 

"I don't know that there's any department that could pick that [expense] up by themselves," he explained. "Sharing the costs, at least in our view, is inherent in taking on all those duties."

 

Making the situation worse, while it once carried large balances, the emergency security fund has decreased dramatically since Trump came into office. The administration and Congress still owe the District more than $7 million from Trump's inauguration. 

The Obama administration reimbursed the full $8.9 million in overruns for his 2013 inauguration, according to federal records.

 

The administration contends the District agreed to use money that was unspent in the emergency fund to pay for inaugural costs and have not asked for more money, while Bowser's office denies this. 

Also contributing to the depletion of the funds was the late President H.W. Bush's funeral.

 

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the nonvoting representative in Congress for the District, said she will request an emergency $6 million to keep the security fund from going bankrupt. 

She and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) wrote to House and Senate appropriations committee leaders last month and asked for more money to replace what has been depleted.

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